Turkistan is a city in the Kazakh Desert. It is home to the Khoja Mausoleum, a pilgrimage destination and national symbol. Throwing in the ancient settlements that were once major cities in the Silk Road, this region is definitely worth a one or two-day trip.
There’s a place in Kazakhstan that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the country. The “pearl” of the country, the lakes in Borovoe are an oasis in the northern steppes.
Sauran and Otrar are two abandoned cities, their former glory long forgotten with the decline of the old Silk Road.
Halfway to Turkistan, the highway is alive at night. Dusty engines rest, families settle around, mud ovens are set up, and a busy city is improvised. The smells of beshbarmak, manti, pelmeni, shashlik and every other food in the country dance in Kazakh, Russian and Turkish.
Almaty is a city that vibrates with life. It was also my gateway to Kazakhstan, and so my first contact with a crazy culture that runs on alcohol and horse meat.